TED NewsDesk, New Delhi. Attempting to curb hunger, lack of education, child labour, and child marriage in India during the pandemic, Indian NGOs make sure that underprivileged children are well-fed and educated. The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic has posed various challenges for citizens. In India, with schools shut down and the imposition of a nationwide lockdown, children, had to give up physical classroom learning and adapt to online education.
However, for the underprivileged children, hailing from rural pockets, lives had almost come to a standstill with the pandemic. Not only did their learning stop, poor internet connectivity, and unavailability of smartphones, but these children also found it hard to receive proper meals.
We can also note the rise of child marriages and child labour in the country due to these very reasons. Here are a few NGOs who are making it possible for these children to thrive amidst trying circumstances.
Akshaya Patra Foundation: During the nationwide lockdown, it distributed around 9.2 crore meals to the underprivileged children and their families. It also introduced happiness kits, including nutritious food items, hygiene kits, immunity boosters, and learning materials for children to go back to school. These kits are distributed in Bengaluru, Jigani, Hyderabad, Thane, Silvassa, Jaipur, Vadodara, Lucknow, Vrindavan, and Guwahati.
The non-profit organization plans underway to restart its ‘Back-to-School’ initiative to help underprivileged children get proper education amidst the pandemic. It has also partnered with multiple organizations, including SunLife Asia, Deutsche Bank, and Ola Foundation, to execute its COVID-19 relief work in various places.
Smile Foundation: Smile Foundation has been educating poor children in India across 25 states. It also works in healthcare, livelihood, and women empowerment in over 2,000 villages in India. During the lockdown, the NGO has ensured the underprivileged sections and displaced migrant laborers were being provided with ration kits and regular meals through its partnerships with PepsiCo, KFC India, and others.
These ration kits include rice, dal, salt, oil, sugar, masks, sanitary pads, soap, and other essentials. Besides, it is also providing teleconsultation and medical assistance across the most affected states. The Smile Foundation has partnered with the NASSCOM Foundation and QuEST Foundation to educate school children. Through this partnership, the NGO aims to educate one adult in every household in rural communities. It had organised a week-long, pan-India painting project as well, to keep children occupied with colours.
Nirbhed Foundation: Nirbhed Foundation was started by Sushil Kumar Meena and his classmate Taruna, aiming to educate poor children at no cost. Catering to over 3,700 kids, Nirbhed began to an initiative called ‘Main Bhi hoon shikshak’ (I am also a teacher) in the middle of the pandemic. The initiative aims to train senior children from a particular area to teach younger children as a salaried initiative, thereby financially aiding their family. It is also striving to prevent the more significant national issue of child labour.
During the lockdown, the NGO distributed ration kits to about 4,300 families and adopted 2,200 families, who received regular meals. Nirbhed Foundation claims to have distributed over 40 lakh meals to needy families within this period.
Hinduja Foundation: Hinduja Foundation works in education, healthcare, water stewardship, and rural development. It started the ‘iCare: Volunteer from Home’ initiative, under which more than 600 Hinduja Group employees volunteered to educate kids from home. These classes explored curriculum-based science and mathematics and co-curricular activities such as art, dance, music, etc.
The well-funded initiative catered to over 5,500 students across villages in India. The second phase successfully connected rural children to a standard device set up in a common area. Apart from this, it has also distributed rations kits to distressed families as a part of their rural development programme and has provided teleconsultation services to aid mental health.
Notun Jibon: Founded by Arup Sengupta in 2016, Notun Jibon translates to ‘new life,’ aiming to educate the children of slum dwellers, sex workers, and low-income parents, as well as ensures that they are well fed. Through its school, Sahaj Path, the NGO involves children in basic subjects and dance, music, and physical exercise.
While the classes were stopped due to the pandemic, the NGO has underway to reopen the school with strict social distancing and hygiene practices sometime soon. Attempting to tackle the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the NGO diligently distributes ration kits to children and their families every Tuesday and shall continue to do so until things start looking up. It also distributes food and ration kits to roughly 400 sex workers who reside in red-light areas.
While NGOs in every region of India have been tirelessly working on the ground to provide food, rations, and hygiene kits to the poor, they are also performing the critical task of creating awareness about the virus and preventing its spread, educating people about social distancing, helping to combat the stigma, providing shelter and setting up community kitchens for those in need. They offer hope and support to those who need it most through our donations and awareness.